I think  those who live and work in the US for x number of years without papers should get an amnesty, as was done by Reagan, and I support the targeted amnesty by Clinton for refugees from countries where their lives were in danger if returned, but the blanket amnesty by President Obama for illegal aliens under a certain age seems to have a few constitutional problem, according to usually mildly liberal newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor:

But even assuming that the order is legal, even progressive legal experts say Obama’s modus operandi has begun to undercut the basic balance of power in Washington.

His moves “fit a disturbing pattern of expansion of executive power,”  constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley,  who usually sides with progressive ideals, tells Politico. “This is a President who is now functioning as a super legislator” who is “effectively negating parts of the criminal code because he disagrees with them. That does go beyond the pale.”

So the president doesn’t like a law (place favorite law here: refusing to defend traditional marriage in court, deporting illegal drug gang members under age 16)? So ignore the law instead of changing it, or issue a fiat to get things done.

True, this has been done before. Clinton used a federal regulation the anti racketeering RICO law to prosecute anti abortion protesters, and Bush ignored basic human rights by parsing the constitution (Terrorists are not “citizens” so the law insisting on habeus corpus, civilian trials, and even forbidding cruel and unusual punishment doesn’t apply in war time).  Clinton’s expansion of the RICO law was in the shadow of the Oklahoma City bombing, justified by fear of domestic terrorism. Bush’s expansion of punishment to non citizens at war with the US occurred after the 9-11 attacks: both times, in order to protect civilian lives.

However, with President Obama, we see a more disturbing trend: The decision to of the President to expand his power for political purposes, when there is no emergency and no danger to the public if these things would be delayed a bit to get the Congress to pass the law.

In other words, he is doing it to get votes during an election year.

Yet the Presidential fiat for immigration is not the only expansion of power by the government: another threat is a growing government bureaucracy.

When Federal bureaucrats expand their mandates beyond what the Congress thought they passed in the original law, it is again a power grab, and in this case, by bureaucrats who can’t be voted out.

Examples of this is the expansion of the Clean Water Act to include the inclusion of ditches and gullies on private property,  or the use of drones to inspect cattle in Nebraska. 

True, Google Earth will let you spy too: (you can even spot our house in the Philippines on Google Earth) but maps are not the same as spying in real time for a “gotcha” moment, without a court order that allows such spying on evidence of wrongdoing.
Welcome to the brave new world where privacy is impossible because it means any unelected bureaucrat can spy and find you did something wrong, for any reason.

Another “government by fiat” can be found in the Obamacare bill: Doctors now have to “document” everything in those fancy new electronic medical records the government has ordered us docs to use. In the past, we often left “sensitive” questions out of the records. No more. Sexual preference, risk factors, HIV status, use of illegal drugs or prostitutes will be there: All this and more for any hacker to steal, along with your social security and credit card number.

And of course, the Obama care law, which many saw as a godsend for catastrophic medical events, will freeze or cut payment for doctors to see Grandmom, but will pay ten dollars a month for your birth control pill, the Catholic church and their 600 hospitals be damned. This, even though the original bill was passed only when the president “assured” the few remaining blue dog Democrats (who delayed passage of the bill by asking this to be put in writing) that he wouldn’t do this.

But he did do it: Or rather an unelected bureaucratic panel in the HHS did it.

The religious opposition isn’t backing down, by the way, and the implications of redefining “freedom of religion” to mean “freedom for houses of worship only” is a lot more dangerous than the press wants to admit: The Anchoress has more on the political manipulation that tried to use the CHA to appear to

  “back the compromise before anyone in that organization had read or studied the document. Well, they members have read it and forced the PC nun in charge to admit the organization didn’t agree with her…

That’s why this is a big deal. CHA represents over 600 Catholic hospitals and hundreds of nursing and rehab facilities; that’s a lot of Catholic energy to be out of agreement with the US Bishops. Perhaps they considered the recent (largely media-ignored) lawsuits filed against the Obama administration in 12 jurisdictions by 43 Catholic entities (including Notre Dame University), and began to consider the HHS enterprise a loser. Hard to tell.

So why all the fiats by the president and use of bureaucratic fiats to get things done, instead of doing it the old fashioned way, by compromise? Again, from the CSMonitor article, quoting a Presidential spokesman in the Politico:

When Congress blocks Obama’s agenda, the unnamed spokesman said, “we look to pursue other appropriate means of achieving our policy goals. Sometimes this makes for less than ideal policy situations – such as the action we took on immigration – but the President isn’t going to be stonewalled by politics.”

Ah yes, Politics. A dirty word to purists, because it means talking with other people and maybe compromising on your pure agenda. Which is why dictatorships have always been seen as the quick and easy answer when people are in economic problems or in times of war.

Democracy, where people have an objection to the Leader’s plans, or the idea of a Republic, where various interest groups, including minorities, are allowed a say to protect their interests, are not the way to get things done.

What’s wrong with the President governing by “fiat” so he won’t be “stonewalled by politics”?

Well, children: imagine what could happen with that kind of power in the hands of a dirty Republican. I was going to say “a president Romney”, but Romney, like Eisenhower, is too much of a gentleman to become a good dictator. True, the left paints all Republicans as to the right of Hitler, but this year the candidate is from the middle of the road: He got elected in Massachusetts, he okayed gay marriage (to obey the court order), and he actually passed a health care plan for that state.

In other words, he did things legally and in a bipartisan way that President Obama has done or tried to do by partisanship.

President Obama lacked the executive experience to do this type of negotiating, say his critics. Yet why hasn’t he learned the lessons from his time in the Senate?

Maybe President Obama should instead take as his mentor the old and crooked politicrat, Lyndon Johnson, who was famous for his political shenanigans as Majority leader of the Senate, and who as president managed to pass social legislation and the Civil rights act that more charismatic leaders like JFK could never do.

How did LBJ do it? I remember an anecdote about his work as majority leader: He once reminded a purist who wanted his unedited agenda passed, by reminding him of the saying “half a loaf is better than none”, and then went on to clarify this: “Half a loaf? No, even a G##-D### slice”.

A compromise could have easily been reached on Obamacare, on immigration, and on other hot button issued by the President, but he wants the entire agenda.

I might back his agenda, but don’t feel destroying democracy is the way to do it.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines. She is a Democrat.

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